While the Lima Decision reaffirmed that governments have to put the individual climate pledges on table in the first half of next year, forming the foundations of the global climate agreement due in Paris next December, many of the big issues that have plagued the talks for years were shirked and left for later.
On finance, governments reached their US $10 billion minimum capitalization goal for the Green Climate Fund. This was a welcome first step, but the momentum provided by the pledges to the Green Climate Fund got lost in translation. The Lima outcome did not provide further clarity about the pathway to the US $100 billion a year promised to support developing countries to take climate action. Finance was essentially kicked down the road to Paris. As a result much of the untapped potential for climate action in developing countries stands in further jeopardy, and faith in the process was undermined for some.
Concern over the level of support also complicated governments’ efforts to agree on what kind of information should go into their post-2020 climate action pledges, which are due in the first half of next year. They’ll need to provide information to help the world judge whether the pledges are adequate and equitable. There was an important agreement that no country can backslide from their prior commitments. But governments stepped back from plans for a robust assessment, which could have helped the world measure how each pledge is or is not contributing to a strong Paris agreement.
One of Lima’s biggest disconnects on display was the inability of governments to pick any of the low-hanging fruit provided by the recent explosive growth in the renewable energy – growth driven by plummeting prices over the last few years – apparently ignoring the enormous gap between their current commitments and the need to move quickly and strongly. Governments took no meaningful action to scale up climate action in the five years before 2020, the start date for the Paris Agreement. Instead countries are focused only on pledges for action starting after 2020.
In a positive contrast, negotiators here in Lima were in sync with the emerging consensus around the world that we need to phase out fossil fuels, illustrated by this phaseout being listed as one of the options in the draft outline for the Paris agreement. Governments acknowledged that they have a May deadline for turning that current list of options for the Paris agreement into a legal negotiating text. This means real work on the Paris agreement must get underway at the next session in February in Geneva.
Overall, this COP shows governments are disconnected from their people who are worried about climate risks and want a just transition to boost our economies, deliver jobs and strengthen public health. Increasingly domestic issues, whether they are elections or decisions about major projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline in the US and the Galilee basin in Australia, will be seen as a country’s intention on climate change. While governments were able to hide in Lima, they won’t have that luxury in Paris where the world will be expecting them to deliver an agreement.